Analysis | The Cybersecurity 202: Super Tuesday will be big test for security of Los Angeles County's new voting machines
By Joseph Marks
Voters prepare their ballots in voting booths during early voting for the California presidential primary election at an L.A. County 'vote center' on March 1, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
Today’s Super Tuesday contest will mark a critical test for the brand new voting machines that Los Angeles County had custom built in the hopes voting could be easy and accessible
But as security concerns persist, it may also be judgment day for the strategy to try to wrest control of voting technology from the stranglehold of a handful of major
The county poured $280 million into the machines, a rare example of a system not built by any of the three companies that control more than 90 percent of the U.S.
Yet an official review contracted by California’s top election office in December uncovered numerous digital and physical flaws and sparked fears among security advocates that the vote could be compromised.
“We may be witnessing something like the emperor’s new clothes,” Susan Greenhalgh, vice president of policy at the National Election Defense Coalition advocacy group, told us. “We’ve been told that this is so great and so expensive and so fabulous for the past 10 years. And when it actually had to see the light of day and get scrutinized by some independent testers, it didn’t come close to meeting
The debut of the new machines in L.A.
But the poor report card for the effort by the largest county in the nation, with massive resources, may have them questioning whether it’s worth going this route.
The machines, dubbed Voting Solutions for All People or VSAP, also lack full-disk encryption – a
The concerns come as top government officials warn that Russia and other U.S.
Officials renewed those warnings yesterday with a joint statement from top intelligence, law enforcement and
Logan, who led development of the system, defended it in an interview, saying the issues critics raise are to be expected for a bold system that was built from scratch.
“Given the time frame and the dynamics that we had to work under, I don’t think it’s particularly surprising or shocking,” he said. “It’s an entirely new and innovative way to deploy a voting system, and it’s more complex and challenging than any other election jurisdiction in the country.”
He also accused critics of reflexively attacking the system because it’s new, adding that “that’s why we’ve been stuck for decades on the limited voting systems we have in this country.”
Indeed, the system has become fodder for critics of ballot-marking devices – a category of touch screen voting machines like the VSAP that also produce paper ballots for voters to review. BMDS have become far more common since 2016 when election officials across the nation shifted to paper-based voting systems that are more secure against hacking – but many
The secretary of state’s office also required the county to provide a paper ballot option for voters who don’t want to use the new machines. But the paper ballots do not list the candidates or the specific races, meaning voters must write all of their choices in by hand, raising the possibility of ambiguous responses that could confuse election results.
The county’s development contract with its vendor Smartmatic, however, promised that California’s
In addition to the digital and physical security concerns, the report highlighted a messy ballot design that requires voters to scroll through multiple pages to review all the candidates for some races. That has already prompted a lawsuit from the city of Beverly Hills, which says it’s unfair to
“It’s a great concept, but it has a fatal flaw in that it does not provide the electorate with an objective view of the election,” Julian Gold, a Beverly Hills City Council member who will appear on the ballot, said in an interview. “When was the last time you [got] to Page 2 of a Google search?”
Here’s a full rundown on what to expect on Super Tuesday from my colleagues Amy Gardner and Elise Viebeck.
An “I Voted” sign points to a polling station.
Several localities said they would fix their
That includes Richmond, the Virginia capital that represents more than 153,000 voters, which is still running on a 2003 version of Microsoft’s Windows operating system that the company is no longer issuing routine patches for. Richmond officials said they’re still getting periodic updates from Microsoft meant to plug major security holes.
“We are absolutely prepared to protect the integrity of our elections and have taken significant steps to do so,” Richmond spokesman Jim Nolan said.
None of the election offices contacted by ProPublica reported that their sites had been hacked. But U.S.
A Huawei logo is seen on the side of a building at the headquarters in Shenzhen, China.
The new documents relate to a multimillion-dollar Iranian telecommunications project that figures prominently in an ongoing U.S.
Huawei has pushed back against numerous U.S.
But the new documents show the company sold more than 300 cases of U.S.
A Huawei spokesman declined to comment, citing the ongoing legal case.
A North Korean flag flies before
The indictment is the first known case of U.S.
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